Sunday Fun Day

In Detroit, Sundays extend — not represent the end of — the weekend

Getting wild at a Detroit Lions tailgate party. Photo by MLive/Advance Local
We’ve got you covered on all the ways to wind up — not wind down — your Sundays in metro Detroit.

Culturally Speaking

Get Enlightened

Detroit’s Cultural Center, an easy 15-minute QLine ride from Campus Martius Park, puts you in an area where you can easily walk to and enjoy the Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Science Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Public Library — all in one day, if you so choose.

Yeah, we said library. Its hallowed halls are not only a book lover’s heaven but marvels to behold. Among the library’s art to adore: John Stephens Coppin’s 1964 three-panel mural Man’s Mobility, which fittingly celebrates modes of transportation. The Detroit Public Library is known to host an event or two on any particular Sunday — a noted author’s reading, a jazz combo or a yoga session are among its beyond-books offerings.

If you skip out on library time, go walk the brick streets of Old Detroit at the Detroit Historical Museum, or stroll through the permanent exhibit And Still We Rise at The Wright, depicting the perseverance and power of African-Americans. Make your way to the DIA and appreciate masterpieces by masters like Rivera, Degas and Van Gogh. While there, check out independent films at the Detroit Film Theatre. A little-known secret: the DIA’s cafeteria-style eatery, Café DIA, has really good eats and is open Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

With the Kids

Get hands-on at Michigan Science Center, which has more than 250 exhibits and three theaters, including a planetarium. Every Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., there are live stage shows that bring science to life. Other not-to-be-missed Sunday spots, especially for families, include the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), just east of downtown Detroit on the riverfront, and The Henry Ford in Dearborn. “There’s a lot of doing, not just seeing,” said Linda Walters, director at the OAC. “We offer an active way for kids and adults to feel like they’re outdoors.” Those ways include getting in a rowboat and mimicking fishing, plus various forms of archery. Sometimes, weather permitting, you might be invited to actually go outdoors for ice fishing, snowshoeing or sledding.

At The Henry Ford, you’ve got Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village multiple nights in October, or during the really cold months there’s Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, open every Sunday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., where the Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks traveling exhibit runs Oct. 12-Jan. 5.

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Outdoors & More

City as a Canvas

For a grittier but no less fabulous introduction to art in Detroit, take a Sunday stroll or bike ride, and view some of the city’s finest murals, many breathing new life into old brick buildings and concrete structures. Thanks to outdoor sculpture sanctuaries like Lincoln Street Art Park and annual events such as Murals in the Market, which began five years ago, Detroit is a canvas for international and local artists. More than 125 murals, for example, now adorn spaces in the city because of Murals in the Market. Most can be found around historic Eastern Market.

Park It

Throughout the late fall and winter months, Campus Martius Park is lit with festive lights and activities, beginning the evening of Nov. 22, the night of the Detroit Tree Lighting Ceremony. An open plaza in the heart of downtown, Campus Martius Park is a popular gathering place for ice skating or simply taking in the attractive views. The Rink opens for skating the evening of the holiday tree lighting and remains open through early March. Hours vary through the week, but on Sundays it’s typically open by noon and closes around midnight. Also around the same time as the tree lighting, nearby Cadillac Square and Capitol Park open pop-up markets that run through early January. After that, the area surrounding Campus Martius Park transforms into a wonderland of family activity for Winter Blast, held on select weekends typically in mid-January and February.

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Fun and Games

Any Given Sunday

In the fall, when there’s a Detroit Lions home game, Eastern Market trades in its farmers market persona and transforms into tailgate central. “It’s a huge party,” said Lonni Thomas, market manager. “We easily get 5,000 to 6,000 people per game.” And they arrive with grills, speakers and movie-size screen monitors. “I’ve even seen people bring in a mobile Jacuzzi,” added Thomas.

Although space can be found on nearby streets, it’s best to rent parking spots from Eastern Market Corp. The cost is $45 per space, offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Make reservations at, or on game day stop by the office at 2934 Russell St., which opens at 7 a.m., to check availability. Shuttles run every 15 minutes from the market beginning 90 minutes before games start and an hour after games end. $5 per person.

The Detroit Lions also offer a free pedestrian-friendly tailgate experience in front of Ford Field on game days. Brush Street, between John R and Montcalm, becomes one big block party called Pride Plaza. Open to all — whether you have a ticket to the game or not — Pride Plaza fun begins a half hour before the gates open and lasts until kickoff.

Beacon Park, the city’s newest park, has entered the football pre- and post-party scene, too, featuring a place to tailgate and a warm, dry area to watch select Lions games and the area’s most popular college football games, such as Michigan State vs. University of Michigan. A variety of non-football activities run year-round at the park as well.

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Bringin’ Brunch

Mimosa bar at Bobcat Bonnie's

Bloody Mary and Mimosa at Bobcat Bonnie’s. Photo by Michelle Gerard

It seems like if you blink, there’s a new restaurant in town, adding to the diverse landscape of places to eat, drink and party. There’s a number of reputable Detroit-area brunch spots you won’t want to miss on any given Sunday, including Bobcat Bonnie’s, which encourages patrons to design their own mimosas and bloody marys. Laid-back yet lively, Honest John’s in the Cass Corridor keeps brunch friendly on the budget and serves a highly praised chicken and waffles. With too many “best of brunch” wins to count, Dime Store is obviously a solid choice, too. Order the brioche french toast or veggie hash. For those living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, Brooklyn Street Local is your go-to brunch spot. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. every weekend, the menu features tasty vegan options from banana walnut pancakes to poutine.

At The Apparatus Room inside the Detroit Foundation Hotel, you’ll find live jazz once a month during Sunday brunch. Pair any one of its plated offerings with the Foundation Bloody, which uses all Detroit-made ingredients: Detroit Foundation gin (made in collaboration with Detroit City Distillery), Norden aquavit and McClure’s bloody mix.

Brunch at the Apparatus Room

The Apparatus Room. Photo by Jesse David Green

Or enter from the back at La Dolce Vita for plated Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Live piano music accompanies the menu that includes salmon hash and Italian-style french toast.

It’d be hard to argue that there’s a more romantic place to dine in metro Detroit than The Whitney. This charming restaurant offers a three-course plated brunch from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and a four-course high tea at 2 p.m. every Sunday. Additionally, every first and fourth Sunday, guests can participate in tours and a dining experience from 5:30-9:30 p.m. that includes a walk-through of the mansion, a five-course meal and paranormal tour that the restaurant’s Director of Operations David Duey describes as “an authentic ghost hunting.”

After-Brunch Merriment

If you’re looking to pass away your Sunday with just a good drink and good company, go to Candy Bar, which Architectural Digest named the “most beautifully designed bar” in Michigan. Inside the Siren Hotel, it’s open Sundays, 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Or you can head to Bert’s Market Place in Eastern Market. Known for its barbecue and music, the entertainment complex features a theater, jazz room and a Motown room. Sunday night is open-mic night.

In the Wayne State University neighborhood, you’ll find the nothing-fancy-but-fun Bronx Bar on Second Avenue, which attracts the college crowd and locals who enjoy a good beer, burger and game of pool. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Baker’s Keyboard Lounge for a Sunday stop. Many of America’s jazz greats have played Baker’s, which prides itself on being called the world’s oldest jazz club.

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Worth Your Worship

Metro Detroit is home to some of the nation’s most architecturally arresting and historic churches, temples and synagogues. Parishioners not only welcome you to join in Sunday worship, but several offer public tours of their stunning spaces.

Mariner’s Church, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, holds Sunday mass at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Each year, this independent Anglican church, established to serve mariners, also holds a Blessing of the Fleet (typically on a Sunday in March) for those going to sea, and a Great Lakes Memorial service (Nov. 10) for those who have lost their lives at sea. The memorial coincides with the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, the ship’s story so eloquently sung by Gordon Lightfoot in the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Ste. Anne de Detroit Church is a neo-Gothic Revival cathedral-style church built in 1886. The parish’s original structure opened in 1701, making it Detroit’s oldest church and America’s second-oldest continuously running Catholic church. Tours are offered on weekdays only, but participants at Sunday mass can certainly appreciate the spectacular sanctuary featuring more than 100 panels of stained glass. Masses are held at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon on Sundays.

Old St. Mary's Catholic Church ceiling

Photo courtesy of Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Detroit’s Greektown neighborhood is the first German Catholic church and the third-oldest Catholic church in the city. On Sundays, self-guided tours with pamphlets are offered after the three scheduled masses at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon.

Temple Beth El, now located in Bloomfield Hills, became Michigan’s first Jewish congregation in 1850. The massive and magnificent modern structure was designed by famed architect Minoru Yamasaki (World Trade Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, among others). Services are held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. Tours can be scheduled online.

Second Baptist Church in Greektown once served as a station on the Underground Railroad. In addition to tours after Sunday services that must be arranged prior to visiting, the church offers tours related to its significance for escaped slaves.

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Other Recurring Sunday Recs

Investigate house tours and grounds worth strolling at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

Book a behind-the-scenes tour at Sea Life Michigan Aquarium. Sundays at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Roll the dice at Greektown, MGM Grand and MotorCity casinos. Open 24/7.

Do the hustle during Hustle for History Lessons at The Wright. Every Sunday from 5-7 p.m.

Take the new Capitol Park strolling brunch tour with Feet on the Street Tours. Select Sunday mornings.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Detroit Historical Museum
    5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  2. 2
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  3. 3
    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
    315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  4. 4
    Detroit Film Theatre
    Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
  5. 5
    The Henry Ford
    20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI 48124
  6. 6
    Campus Martius Park
    800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  7. 7
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  8. 8
    Lincoln Street Art Park
    Lincoln Street Art Park, Lincoln Street, Detroit, MI, USA
  9. 9
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  10. 10
    Ford Field
    2000 Brush St., Detroit, MI 48226
  11. 11
    Beacon Park
    Beacon Park, Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA
  12. 12
    Bobcat Bonnie's
    1800 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48216
  13. 13
    Honest? John's
    488 Selden St., Detroit, MI 48201
  14. 14
    Dime Store
    719 Griswold St., Ste. 180, Detroit, MI 48226
  15. 15
    Brooklyn Street Local
    1266 Michigan Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  16. 16
    Apparatus Room
    250 W. Larned St., Detroit, MI 48226
  17. 17
    The Whitney
    4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  18. 18
    The Siren Hotel
    1509 Broadway St., Detroit, MI 48226
  19. 19
    Bert's Market Place
    2727 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  20. 20
    Bronx Bar
    4476 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  21. 21
    Baker's Keyboard Lounge
    20510 Livernois Ave., Detroit, MI 48221
  22. 22
    La Dolce Vita
    La Dolce Vita, Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA
  23. 23
    The Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit
    1000 St. Anne St., Detroit, MI 48216
  24. 24
    Old St. Mary's Church
    646 Monroe St., Detroit, MI 48226
  25. 25
  26. 26
    Mariner's Church
    Mariners' Church, East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA
  27. 27
    Temple Beth El
    Temple Beth El, Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA
  28. 28
    Ford House
    1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236
  29. 29
    Sea Life Michigan Aquarium
    4316 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
  30. 30
    Greektown Casino-Hotel
    1200 St. Antoine St., Detroit, MI 48226
  31. 31
    MGM Grand Detroit
    1777 Third Ave., Detroit, MI 48226
  32. 32
    MotorCity Casino-Hotel
    2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  33. 33
    Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
    315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201